Self-Control of Vladimir Putin‘s “Chef“ Tests not just Lithuania

A special text “A Test of Self-Control of Vladimir Putin’s Chef for Lithuania” published here introduced a Russian business oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. It was special because at the beginning of the year the public domain of …

A special text “A Test of Self-Control of Vladimir Putin’s Chef for Lithuania” published here introduced a Russian business oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. It was special because at the beginning of the year the public domain of Lithuania was exploding because of the situation when the aircraft of the Saint Petersburg businessman often called the chef of Vladimir Putin was parked at Vilnius airport for almost two weeks. The aircraft landed for repair at a company owned to the aviation group Avia Solutions Group under control of the businessman Gediminas Žiemelis. Actually, no repairs have been made. Probably everyone was relieved when the aircraft finally disappeared.    
Then everyone spoke who was not lazy to speak.  Now we should undoubtedly remember and actualize the idea suggested by the Committee on the National Security and Defence of the Seimas to include Yevgeny Prigozhin into the list of persons subject to sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU).
Not going back to the biography of the businessman now we should just remind of Internet Research Agency operating in Saint Petersburg, mainly known  under the title of “troll factory” and related to Yevgeny Prigozhin as a the reference point. The mission of the ‘factory’ is to cause confusion first of all to the West by fake messages. It earned fame after presidential election in the United States in 2016 when a special prosecutor Robert Mueller had to be appointed for investigation of intrusion in the election.
On 16 February 2018 the prosecutor brought charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin and against other 13 Russian citizens from “troll factory” and after a month the United States imposed sanctions on them. After charges were proved at court, the door to the United States were closed to the restorer, who ranked 106 in the list of wealthiest people of Russian , because he might never come back from there. Yevgeny Prigozhin then threatened to go to court and sue with the United States; however he calmed down pretty fast.
Therefore, he was celebrating a tactical victory when in March the District of Columbia Court in the USA supported the arguments of the Ministry of Justice and discontinued the proceedings. The Ministry noted that during the process of proceedings the defence of the Russian businessman might get an access to sensitive information about methods used in the United States for disclosure and neutralization of the fabricated information. Russia has been seeking this in a purposeful and aggressive way. On 1 September, based on this the company of Yevgeny Prigozhin Konkord demanded (not more or less) the Interpol to cease the international persecution.    
Exposure did not mean closure of the “office’ in Saint Petersburg. On 1 September and informed about removal of 18 online accounts and 2 websites related to ‘troll factory’ where propaganda about presidential election in the United States was spread already on 3 November. According to the notification on , in January Russians created a website , where they posted comments critisizing the candidate of Democrats Joe Biden. The operation was focused on the auditorium of Liberals and the Left wing. To tell the truth, it was not very successful and got only 14 thousand visitors.     
Americans did not stop, either. The Ministry of Justice of the USA on 15 July supplemented the list of sanctions with three Russians and five companies relating to Yevgeny Prigozhin for destabilizing activities in Sudan. According to Americans, the company M Invest owned by the businessman covered operations of the Ministry of Defence of Russia in this particular country in Africa, sponsored and created the action plan for then President Omar al-Bashir against protesting Sudanese, who were demanding democratic reforms. As the Minister of Finance of the United States Steven Mnuchin noted, Yevgeny Prigozhin and the chain of his companies were using natural resources of Sudan for personal profit and malicious operations in the whole world.    
Despite support of Russia, in order to discredit protestors Omar al-Bashir then indicated that Americans could remember Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ because of actions of mercenaries from Wagner Group operating in Libya and fighting on one side in the civil war.   
We should remember that there are plenty of notifications about private Russian military formations in different parts of the world. For instance, on 28 January 2018 the news agency Reuters announced about transfer of 400 soldiers from Wagner Group to Venezuela for protection of the leader Nicolás Maduro, who led the country to the bankruptcy and who finally got angry with Washington. Wagner Group is already a widely used phrase that describes a private military company of Yevgeny Prigozhin.   
Actually, a dynamic life makes us go back to some stories because/when their heroes and their heroic acts shone in new splendours. Conditions to shine now are simply enviable in the context of turbulent events of the post-Soviet space. As on 6 October the prominent politician of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned on 20 August in Tomsk and later cured in Berlin Charite Clinic told to the blogger Yury Dud, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin was possessed with the idea of mysterious poisonings and he enjoys imagining that he personally is in command of the secret army of Assassins (the aggressive sect of Shiite Ismail that was operating in the 8-14 centuries).   
Alexei Navalny names the responsibility for the attempt to poison him unilaterally to Vladimir Putin. According to the Moscow journalist Alexander Ryklin, it is obvious that instructors of the ‘action’ against Alexei Navalny were coordinating with the Kremlin; there is no other way. Again assumptions prove that our Eastern neighbour has a leader, who is tolerant to violence and terror and maybe even more than that.
Yevgeny Prigozhin is not a stranger (to tell it mildly) to the highest power of Russia; besides, it has its own ‘accounts’ with the politician of the opposition.  
Their dynamic is expressive. In summer the company of Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ Moskovskij shkolnik redeemed the debt of 87.6 million roubles, which the Court of Russia ‘distributed’ to Alexei Navalny, Anticorruption Fund (ACF) managed by him and Lawyer of the Fund Lubov Sobol. The debt incurred after Yevgeny Prigozhin won the proceedings regarding the reputation against the already named claimants when FBK announced the results of the investigation on You Tube about     a group of enterprise Moskovskij shkolnik that supplied bad quality food to education establishments in 2018, as a result of which several children and teenagers got dysentery.   
The court still delays investigation of complaints to Yevgeny Prigozhin of parents of children, who got sick, although he is not poor at all – since 2011 his companies supplying food to education, health and public establishments and made over five thousand supply contracts for 209 billion roubles; according to calculations of MBX media only last year over 2 billion roubles. It is interesting that Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ for some reason denies his relations with Moskovskij shkolnik.        
Seven debt recovery proceedings were initiated against Alexei Navalny. On 27 July all his and ACF accounts were attached. After poisoning the businessman ‘kindly’ announced he would not persecute the politician in case he goes to another country; however he did not refrain and told he would win back in the future (he has promised to ‘undress’ respondents, who lost the case personally, probably that’s why he redeemed the debt of Moskovskij shkolnik so Alexei Navalny would be in debt to him personally).
It seems this time later has arrived. On 24 September law enforcement officials seized the flat of Alexei Navalny, who was still in coma, in Moscow. As if mocking at him Yevgeny Prigozhin’s company transferred 7 million roubles to ACF on 7 September as ‘charity’, which Alexei Navalny repaid on 16 September, telling that feels noxious from just an idea to have money on the account from the tradesman selling spoiled meat. By the way, a little more about differences in customs – Berlin Charity also repaid a million roubles that Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ transferred as if for treatment of the opposition.
At the end of the year the amount of Yevgeny Prigozhin monetary claims reached 77 million roubles. Moscow courts have already heard ten cases as if regarding reputational damage caused to Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’. The last one was initiated on 22 December and Alexei Navalny and another politician of the opposition Vladimir Milov for statements published on You Tube channel Navalny LIVE. The businessman demands 5 million roubles from the respondents. As his representatives indicated, it is planned to initiate another six claims against the politician of the opposition.
Although  the press service of  Yevgeny Prigozhin company Konkord believes that claims are not related to the master’s political opinion, the last lawsuits ‘for some reason coincided’ with the lawsuit initiated  by the Investigation Committee of Russia at the end of year against the politician of the opposition as if regarding overspend of  money of ACF. According to investigators, from 585 donated million roubles he spent 356 million roubles for his personal needs. Alexei Navalny commented this message involving sarcasm that he was being punished for the fact he stayed alive after poisoning and that the President of Russia is tossing from hysteria.
There are reasons for tossing – the lawsuit was initiated after the leader of the opposition managed to call one of the eight persons from the brigade of poisoners of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSS) and actually managed to get the confession with details (the officer thought he was talking to his boss) telling he was actually poisoned and published his conversation on Navalny LIVE, which was seen by 13 million viewers.    
There was nothing left to FSS just to call it falsification and almost nobody believes in it. In banal words, the President of Russia was pulled into a stunt by his own special forces, so he had nothing else to do? As Lev Schlossberg, Russian politician of the opposition told (one of those, who still remained), Alexei Navalny made Vladimir Putin  lose his balance and it is logical he  feels revenge and here the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘accidentally’ is acting according to the algorithm acceptable to the Kremlin.   
Something else about Yevgeny Prigozhin as a geopolitician.
On 20 May ten days before the racial protests in the United States the TV channel NBC News and the Centre Dosje funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky published a document “The Development Strategy of Pan-Africa state in the Territory of the United States of America’ about interference of Yevgeny Prigozhin structures in presidential election in 2016. It was planned to ‘organize’ the state  in the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana, to this end recruiting Afro-Americans with criminal background and sending them for ideological and tactical ‘softening up’ to camps in Africa.
On 3 September information reached the public domain of Russia about poll of the political technologist Maxim Shugalei from Saint Petersburg, who was working in Libya to Yevgeny Prigozhin and was arrested in May for suspicions in attempts to make influence on presidential election (Russia was ‘building’ it on Saif al- Islam, the son of the dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was brought down and killed) to the Council of Komi autonomous republic (the first on the list of the Party “Motherland”, which lists more political technologists of Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’, who were working at home). The Moscow portal made an assumption based on talk partners from the President administration of Russia in order to get the political technologist, who won the election and became a ‘person of power’ from the prison in Libya. Maxim Shugalei was working for Yevgeny Prigozhin in election in Madagascar, too.    
On 1 October Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ in his interview to the Turkish daily told that Turkey had a right to intrude into the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno- Karabakh, because after Nikol Pashinyan became the Prime Minister of Armenia, the number of non-governmental organizations of the United States increased.   
Another piece of serious information that became another ‘hot’ topic in the campaign of presidential election in the United States. In July American media informed that Russia suggested to Afghani Taliban bonuses for killing of American soldiers after American forces in 2018 killed 100 Russian mercenaries from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then admitted that he used to consider such information serious and did not deny he had known it.      
In 2016 there was an attempt to kill Lubov Sobol’s husband Sergei Mokhov. In the interview on 5 September the lawyer of ACF indicated that she has been always convinced and telling in public that Yevgeny Prigozhin was its organizer and customer. After two investigations published on You Tube by ACF about his participation in corruption schemes by getting public orders, Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’ waited for almost two months and then attacked. Her conviction was supported by publication in the daily Novaya gazeta ‘The Chef Likes Stronger Drinks” with a testimony of a person, who participated in the attack in 2018 (he was found dead after the publication).        
According to Lubov Sobol, Ramzan Kadyrov, Yevgeny Prigozhin, FSS or the Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia could be the ones trying to kill Alexei Navalny. Whereas poisoning is not the feature of the leader of Chechnya, besides Alexei Navalny had not ‘sharp angles’ recently with Ramzan Kadyrov, she just excluded him. The only personality left is Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef’.
Of course, we can continue the list of ‘heroic deeds’, however it is enough what has been told for making a conclusion that t turns out that Yevgeny Prigozhin has more ambitions, not just sue with the government of the United States.   
On 24 September the Ministry of Finance of the United States announced about sanctions imposed on structures and persons related to Yevgeny Prigozhin that/who carry out influence campaigns of Russia in the Republic of Central Africa. One comment to the message announced by the online portal of the Russian opposition (blocked in Russia) is . Yevgeny Prigozhin competes just with Ramzan Kadyrov.
Thus, a new text from the serial about the present heroes of Russia – about the sole leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov will follow. 
Arūnas Spraunius

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